According to Sports TV Ratings, Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 19.197 million viewers on ABC. That number was 8 percent higher than last year’s Game 1 which delivered 17.768 million viewers.
Given that last year’s first game was an overtime thriller won by the Warriors, and this year’s contest wasn’t close for the majority of 4th quarter, network executives have to be quite satisfied. The game produced a 13.1 overnight rating in the 56 largest markets. In the two local markets, the game delivered a 36.0 in Cleveland, and a 32.8 in San Francisco.
Last year’s series between the two teams helped ABC enjoy its highest rated Finals since landing the broadcast rights in 2002. It was also the highest-rated matchup since the Chicago Bulls knocked off the Utah Jazz on NBC in 1998.
But with Golden State setting an NBA record with 73 regular-season wins, Steph Curry winning his 2nd straight MVP award, and the Cavaliers fully healthy and once again led by the league’s most popular player LeBron James, this year’s matchup has fans even more intrigued. As long as the series remains close, it should surpass last year’s performance, especially if it’s somehow extended to seven games.